Whew! With Halloween nearly behind us, we are saying good-bye to pumpkins — unless they are fake and full of Almond Joys, some Snickers and those little Kit Kats.
This week I am also pretending I have a test kitchen with a huge staff and this delusion comes courtesy of Rick Rucker (God bless him) general manager of Truckee-Tahoe Hampton Inn and Suites. He is easy to spot around town: dapper, athletically slim, handsome. Great ties. I probably would have lived through another stuffed pumpkin if he made himself available (damn that Kathy girl!) but, to a very large degree, I did get lucky.
This New Orleans-style shrimp recipe which he has painstakingly perfected is on the Top Ten List of Simone Appetit’s Epicurean Delights, right behind, well, nothing. It is, thus far, on the top of the list. Seriously, I wish I had, like, fork ratings. You know, one fork (Spam) and five forks for Rucker’s famous New Orleans-style shrimp.
The trick to this shrimp fest is finding shrimp with the heads on. Not that difficult for something you will (I promise you) serve over and over again. First stop, your local Asian market or, secondly, call your local butcher and order them. They are not very expensive. Apparently food staring back at you is not in huge demand — but they should be. The heads (eyes included) are packed full of juicy flavors.
Here’s looking at you kid.
Rucker’s famous New Orleans-style shrimp
Submitted by Rick Rucker, General Manager Truckee-Tahoe Hampton Inn and Suites
Although Pascale’s Manale claims they invented BBQ shrimp, my friend Jacques said the Cajuns have been preparing this dish down on the Bayou for generations. In either case, no definitive recipe can be found if you search the web (note from Simone: I never do this.) Manale’s won’t share, but I will let you in on my experience with this New Orleans classic.
The first and foremost ingredient is, of course, the shrimp and they must be head-on. From the head you get the juice and fat which makes this a spectacular, one-of-a-kind dish. The other components are fresh ground pepper, lots of it, and butter — and again lots of it.
2 pounds jumbo shrimp, 20 count. Do not remove head or shell
4 tbls. fresh ground pepper
3 /4 pounds butter
1 /4 cup olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed garlic cloves
1 tbls. Worcestershire sauce
1 1 /2 tsp. Tabasco
1 loaf French bread, not sour dough
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dry and arrange shrimp on large baking pan in a single layer. Melt butter in medium sauce pan. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for five minutes. Pour over shrimp.
Place shrimp in oven and turn the shrimp after about five minutes or when they turn pink and opaque. Baste with sauce. Cook for an additional four minutes and remove from oven.
Serve in large bowls with generous amounts of sauce and a crusty French bread (again, not sour dough) also bib napkins.
Nice follow-up: The extra sauce can be frozen and saved for your next batch.
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news @ firstname.lastname@example.org.